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Leilani Münter is a busy environmentalist, juggling her National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) racing duties and environmental responsibilities, speaking up for the Gulf, the need to transition to clean energy, and the protection of the world’s wildlife.

This past August 2010, Leilani boarded a plane with Ric O’Barry to Taiji, Japan, to shine a light on the annual dolphin hunt occurring in the infamous cove. On her plane ride to Japan, Leilani reflected to us on our remarkable ability as human beings to adapt to change, and reminded us that we have the power and the capacity to change – we just need to act.

By Leilani Münter

Last year I drove in a “zero emission vehicle” rally across Norway called the Viking Rally. When I crossed the finish line, I got out of my car, walked over to the exhaust pipe, put my hand out to capture the condensation and drank it.

How could I do this? I was driving a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, of which the only emissions are water and heat.

The “exhaust” coming out of my car was water vapor, nothing more.

People laughed at me and said I was crazy for doing that, but I drank that exhaust because I wanted to drive home the point – the waste from this car is so clean I can drink it!

The particular hydrogen fuel cell car I was driving cost about $1 million to build, so don’t think we are going to see them all over the road anytime soon. But it is a step in a right direction and shows that it CAN be done.

There are many other promising solutions to our fossil fuel cellulosic ethanoland algae based biodiesel, electric cars, gasification of trash to fuel, and the increased use of public transport.

Of course there are a multitude of reasons for us to get off of oil. Besides the obvious drawback of continuing to contribute to the 90 million tons of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into our atmosphere every day, our addiction to oil is also a national security issue.

In America, we currently spend $1 billion per day buying foreign oil from unstable countries that don’t like us very much. Drilling here is not the answer either, because our oil reserves are minimal.

Even if we drilled all our reserves – on and offshore – with our current use, it would be enough to last us for about three and a half years. That is not a workable formula, no matter how you do the math. And having made two trips to the Gulf in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill disaster, I have seen first hand the dangers of offshore drilling. It’s not a pretty sight.

Charles Darwin once said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives. Nor is it the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

And so it is time for us to utilize our intelligence to adapt, to change, to improvise the way that we are living. For all our destruction and carelessness, one thing you cannot take away from the human being is our ingenuity.

There are brilliant minds around the world and I have no doubt we can find a solution to our problems, but we must act quickly.

This generation has been called upon to answer to the most noble of duties – to ensure the survival of future generations with the most basic of survival mechanisms – adaptation.

You can watch Leilani’s own GreenHero profile video to learn more about her inspiring work and how she’s changing her life to reduce her carbon footprint.

To learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint and change the way you live, visit our Oil Changers campaign page. Don’t forget to leave a comment!

To read more about Leilani’s work, visit her Carbon Free Girl site.

Follow Leilani on Twitter, or become her fan on Facebook.

Donate to the National Wildlife Federation to help wildlife affected by the BP oil spill.

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